The Arts Education Partnership is a Center within Education Commission of the States

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education selected Education Commission of the States to serve as the new host organization for the Arts Education Partnership (AEP). Believing that informed policymakers create better education policy, Education Commission of the States works with state education leaders to provide unbiased policy research and reports, targeted technical support and the opportunity to learn from peers in other states. As a policy center within Education Commission of the States, AEP has a unique and powerful opportunity to work with key state leaders to advance the 2020 Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education and promote AEP’s mission to ensure every child has access to a complete and competitive education that includes the arts.

The arts can increase teacher retention and engagement

With increasingly more teachers retiring, coupled with the departure of nearly half of new teachers from the field within their first five years of teaching, public schools face significant challenges in hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers. Studies show that teachers in K-12 schools who integrate the arts into their curricula find their teaching becomes increasingly dynamic and effective and as a result are more engaged in and satisfied with their teaching. Teachers report that these shifts have helped them resist burn out and recommit to the teaching profession. In one study, when arts were infused in the whole school, researchers found teachers decreased their rates of absenteeism (read more).

Arts education helps prepare students for college and careers

The research base suggests that arts education develops a set of skills and capacities closely aligned with those that policymakers and education leaders believe are necessary for success in the 21st Century. These skills include critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration—skills key to tackling the intellectual and professional challenges students will face in high-tech environs. They also include the social skills and capacities necessary for citizenship in an increasingly plural society and global world—including empathy and cross-cultural understanding (read more).

The arts can turn around low performing schools

Arts-centered school reform initiatives can engage students and teachers, improve school climate and culture, and connect schools to families and communities. These initiatives foster higher levels of student achievement as evidenced by scores on statewide, standardized tests. One longitudinal evaluation revealed that arts integration provides advantages to students (in arts learning and cognitive, personal,  and social development) while not detracting from more traditional indicators of student success such as achievement on state standardized tests. The research finds that arts education can also have a salutary effect on teaching, renewing the excitement that teachers feel for their profession and preventing the teacher burnout that is endemic to low-performing schools. Arts partnerships often provide additional resources to schools that have inadequate funding or that lack access to the cultural advantages of more affluent schools, providing additional leverage in areas of high need such as inner city urban and rural schools (read more).

Arts education can help close the achievement gap

Studies finds that arts education engages students who are often underserved in public schools, including students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds and English language learners; that these students do better in arts-rich schools than in schools that do not have robust arts programs; and that they show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement when participating in the arts. The more time they study the arts, the more pronounced are these effects. Studies further find that arts integrated instruction offers an alternative avenue for students to access and learn information in English language arts and mathematics and may be more effective than traditional remedial programs, thus offering a resource in helping to close the achievement gap. Teachers who integrate the arts into their curricula find that they are better able to understand and meet the needs of all of their students. Research suggests that policymakers should consider increasing rather than reducing the role of the arts in schools where an achievement gap persists between students from low-SES backgrounds, English language learners, and other student groups (read more).